August 28, 2014

Primer: When to Feed Pollen Substitute?

Disclaimer: this post is a collection of a Notes to Self because feeding is a complicated issue and I can't remember anything unless it's written down.

In addition to carbohydrates from honey or sugar syrup, bees also need protein and minerals. Young bees need protein to strengthen their muscles, and also to produce brood food. Naturally, they get their protein from pollen. When it is in short supply, both the house bees and the brood they are raising may not develop to their full potential. In times of dearth, pollen substitute or supplement can help. Pollen Substitute is a pollenless combination of soy flour, brewer's yeast and milk powder. Pollen Supplement is just substitute plus real pollen.

Either substitute or supplement can be combined with honey or syrup to make it shapeable into a patty. The advantage of a patty over the dry powder is quickness of putting into the hive. We don't have small hive beetles in Colorado, so the patties won't become breeding grounds for them. While easy and inexpensive to make on your own, I don't like having miscellaneous leftover ingredients hanging around for which I need to find both containers and storage space. Small house, remember?
1/3 of a pollen patty on top of sugar candy
10 days later
There are several premade options available, but I've so far I've only purchased MegaBee Hybrid Patties. My bees liked it, and I attribute their survival two winters ago to it. Here's how we did it.

August 04, 2014

Another Honey Harvest


It wasn't our intent to harvest honey. Our goal was to to get our legs back under us while making sure the bees' needs were met. It's been a year-and-a-half since we worked a hive, so a quick look-see/assessment — to stay ahead of the bees — was our plan. Unfortunately Marty did that – just yesterday – so there wasn't anything for us to do. It turns out, however, that he'd acquired another small hive (same design as ours) that we could work. So we did.